Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rosy's manhwa recommendation: He Dedicated To Roses by Mi Ri Hwang

He Dedicated To Roses
Mi Ri Hwang


"If you were a girl, we would never have met" "Well- be honest with you- I AM a girl-" Plain when she's a girl, but disguised as a guy, she's got a good body, is awesome at fighting and has a handsome face. Despite thinking that Ida is a guy, Kang Naru falls in love with her. Now everyone thinks that Naru is gay, Ida wants to tell him the truth. "What should I do? If they know I'm a girl - " - But at what cost...?

Alternative names
Roses Dedicated to Him
He is dedicated to Roses
Roses tribute to him


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on He Dedicated To Roses
Now here's an odd recommendation. I actually don't approve of any one character's decisions all the way through, although the main romantics do get my sympathies. I suppose it is because of this though, that I found it an interesting read. There's nothing like disagreement to open your eyes to other ways of thinking and acting. On top of this, I do find the difficult decisions facing on pretending to be of the opposite gender interesting, particularly when it comes to romance. This curiosity over just what should be done and how one should act and react in a variety of situations is due mostly to the fact that I'm a tomboy by nature and frequently trod the fine line between being regarded as a male friend and a female romantic interest. I didn't pretend to be what I wasn't but it isn't much of a leap to see such issues as important to someone else's life.
So, He Dedicated Roses, with its odd name is about a young girl in the position of being a maid, along with her parents, in the house of a girl her own age who holds dominion over her. In other words, Ida is a girl who's being commanded about not by an employer but by a young girl who believes herself superior in looks, abilities, rights, wealth, class and anything else of worth. What results is pure bullying. To escape this Ida take on the suppressed part of her personality and identity, when she can, and packages it in the clothes and attitude of a boy who aggressively fights for good. As a boy she defends two others and finally runs into Kang Naru, who falls in love with her at second sight. But he believes her to be just as she presents herself at the time: a boy.
From these simple beginnings, He Dedicated Roses delves into issues of homosexuality, gender bending, romantic triangles (and combinations including more participants), identity, bullying and class dynamics. As the story progresses, the various characters struggling with their identities and romantic inclinations are shown in a good light by balancing them out with the actions of the bad girl princess Mimi, the instigator of bullying who forever says "Mimi" instead of "I". Mimi is so horrible that she can make anyone else's actions seem perfectly fine. But even without this character Ida's situation begs your attention and sympathies. While she stumbles over ending Naru away or drawing him close, confessing to be a girl or maintaining her identity as a boy, Ida tries her best for everyone she cares for and also battles to maintain what little dignity she still has. And because she does, her own situation continues to become worse, mainly at the hands of Mimi. While I disagree with some of the decisions Ida makes I can see what she struggles against and why she opts for what she does, making He Dedicated Roses an interesting story of personal development, romance and discovery.
The art of He Dedicated Roses has a definite manhwa flavour, particularly in the styling of facial features and movement. Ida, in particular, has the giant bobble eyes that appear quite often in manhwas. Otherwise, the balance of light and dark is fairly even, the flow of fight scenes smooth and the focus of the story remains solidly upon Ida's problems. There is a touch of roughness to the style but this fits manhwa rather than manga illustrating. The art is well produced and works well to highlight the costume changes Ida goes through.

I'd recommend this manhwa to: those who love school situated stories as well as anyone interested in issues of bullying and status, gender bender complexities and issues of sexual questioning. 

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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